Our inside-out habits: We pray. We study the Bible. We make friends. We tell our stories. We give ourselves away in generosity and service.
A PERSONAL PRAYER
Sometimes, it seems like much more distant past than one year ago. Sometimes, it seems like it was just yesterday. Many of us remember exactly where we were and what we were doing, a newsreel that we can play back in our minds. I wondered if Dee and I would be stuck in Los Angeles after a week with our daughter, and while everyone else was escaping Houston, we flew back miraculously into the eye of the storm, still planning to have worship on Sunday morning. I can remember so vividly all the feelings I had on that crazy week:
• Helpless – recognizing that for the most part, there was really nothing to be done to stop the damage, stuck in my home hearing from others that they needed help and not having any way to respond.
• Inadequate – feeling in the days after that we should somehow lead, respond in some profound way, show people how they can help and find help, but having no clue how to do so.
• Heartbroken – sad for the hundreds, the thousands of people whose lives had been upended completely – far beyond losing “extra stuff,” they left lifetimes of memories out on the curbs.
• Guilty – that my life was basically untouched, while friends and neighbors were wondering how they would ever move forward.
• Grateful – for our staff and congregational members who stepped in and just started doing and working until we figured out the best steps forward, and for all who gave so generously of their goods and time and money to help others. Grateful for those from churches in other cities who came and helped with their time and energy and expertise. And grateful just to be alive.
• Proud – of St. Luke’s and the authentic love shown to those within and outside of our church, and of those leading our efforts to be good stewards of the resources we were given. I was moved by the genuine care offered to those who were hurting. And so proud of our city, Houston Strong, Hounited in response to the crisis.
God, most importantly, I thank you for showing up in the midst of the storm, both that day and in the days since, lifting up those who are down, working through thousands of people seeking to help. I pray for those whose lives are still not restored, that you would uphold them both spiritually and materially, and show us how to love and serve them.
In the name of Christ, the rock on whom we build our house, ready for the floods that come. Amen.
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
This Sunday, August 26, as part of our worship we will remember Hurricane Harvey, thank God for God’s presence in the storm, and take a look at what has been and still needs to be done. It was both a difficult and an amazing time, and it is appropriate that we remember and give thanks.
Our Sermon Series, “Bridges,” continues this week, and we will consider together how we as Christians are to be in relationship with those of other faith traditions. What is your responsibility as a Christian when you speak to someone of the Jewish, or Muslim, or Hindu faith? Are all religions basically alike, just different pathways to the same goal? Or are Christians right and others just plain wrong? Come this Sunday, and we will talk about it together. At 10:00 in the Activity Center, during the Sunday School hour, you have the opportunity to hear an interfaith panel discuss living in our multi-faith culture. More information is here.
Next Sunday, September 2, our theme is building bridges across race and culture. I will be privileged to introduce to you Rev. Dr. Maria Dixon-Hall, a marvelous preacher I heard speak about this challenge last year. Dr. Dixon-Hall has developed a unique approach to “cultural intelligence,” and I think you will enjoy hearing her. If you can’t be here on Labor Day weekend, then livestream or watch the podcast later. This is an important issue for our time.
Those of you with students in grades 6-12 will want to be a part of Student Ministries “Vision Morning” this Sunday, August 26, from 9:45 until 11:00 in the Student Ministries building. It’s an open house, and a great way to meet the Student Ministry staff and leaders, and to find out all the major activities coming for the upcoming year.
The Fall is a great time to recommit to regular Bible Study with others. There are lots of marvelous groups that will meet this fall to study the Bible together. You can sign up on the groupfinder on our website or visit the Connection Center between services.
Sunday, August 26
Heavenly Father, as Jesus taught, we should always pray and never give up. Even when situations seem impossible for us, strengthen us to trust in sharing our requests with you. For we know that nothing is insurmountable for you and that through you all things are possible. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
Monday, August 27
Dear God, you have given us this beautiful place to dwell. As we walk through our days, help us to marvel in your creation. Awaken in us a desire to be better stewards of the world around us. Make us people who work to cherish, to care for, and to preserve your gift. Amen.
Tuesday, August 28
God, we pray that St. Luke’s would continue to thrive and set examples of service and acceptance of all of God’s people. We pray that all of our members can find a place and way to serve you, Lord. Amen.
Wednesday, August 29
God, thank you for your great many blessings! We praise your name and love your goodness. Help us to see that you are always close to us and help us be the people that you are calling us to be. Amen.
Thursday, August 30
Mighty God, Blessings on those who volunteer and work at St. Luke’s Church, NFCC, and CCSC. Help them to spread Christian love into Houston by providing prayer, counseling, and resources to all who ask. Amen. -Prayer by Lynda Isensee
Friday, August 31
Lord, we thank you for all of the pastors here at St. Luke’s. We thank you for all of the ways that they use their gifts and talents to serve you and to help us move forward on our journeys of faith. We pray that you would send them special blessings today and that you would help them know how much we love and appreciate them. We ask that you would bless their ministries and their families. Amen.
Saturday, September 1
Jesus, unite us in your love so that we can no longer see man-made differences. Amen.